News Brief: City Council considers future use of historic Center for the Performing Arts

The Tucson City Council met on Tuesday, March 20, 2019 with packed agendas for both their study-session and regular evening meetings.

In the study session, the Council convened in executive session, which is a private, non-public session, to discuss options on the future use or sale of the old Tucson Center for the Performing Arts located at 408 South 6th Avenue. When they returned from executive session the Council moved to bring the issue back to City Council no later than June 4.

Tucson Del Sur News requested comment from Mayor and Council on the criteria they are looking for in any proposed use of the historic building but had not received any response by the time of publication.

Betty Villegas, president of Los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson, attended the study session. She “wants it [the Center] to be used for the purposes intended,” and sent a letter to the Council in opposition to the single proposal received during the RFP, or request for proposal, process.

Villegas and Los Descendientes opened the Sosa-Carillo Fremont House at 151 S. Granada Avenue, as an historical Mexican-American heritage museum. She is a third-generation Tucsonan who takes great pride in the Old Pueblo and does not want the future use of the historic performing arts center to be a “missed opportunity.”

“Wouldn’t it be cool to (re)name it the Alberto Elias Cultural Arts Center?” Villegas asked, referring to the late Old Pueblo Printers owner and descendent of the Moreno family, publishers of the historic Spanish newspaper, El Tucsonense.

According to Villegas, she and Elias once worked to have the area where the center is located designated a historic cultural area, and she holds out hope there is still time to keep the center from becoming another development that is just “more of the same.”

In the evening session, the Council convened as the Public Housing Commission and awarded Esperanza en Escalante II, an extension of the existing Esperanza en Escalante I, a low-income housing development adjacent to Davis Monthan Air Force base on Calle Polar, 46 Project Based Vouchers for 20 years, according to the City Clerk’s office.

These Housing and Urban Development vouchers work differently that Section 8 vouchers because they are awarded to qualified housing developments rather than individuals or families. Esperanza en Escalante II was also awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits in 2018 and is expected to be completed by December 2019.

The Council also approved a land-swap between the City and Pima County so Tucson Water can develop the Santa Cruz Well Field just south of Aerospace Parkway, between South Eisenhower and Hoover Roads. The well field will supply water to the Sonoran Corridor and Southside residents. Check back for more on this development.

The Council also pushed through an amendment to the Intergovernmental Agreement between the City and the Regional Transportation Authority to designate $3 million for the Houghton Road Corridor Project. The amendment allocates funds to acquire right of way for the project, according to a Mayor and Council communication.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9.